At Pepperrell Cove, a Dining Destination Salutes a Founding Family

Pepperell Cove Then and Now in Kittery Point
Original Frisbee's Market and Bistro 1828 Today (current photo: Barbara MacLeod)

An homage to the Frisbee family and their piece of Kittery Point

After the historic Frisbee’s Market in Kittery Point, Maine, experienced a devastating fire in July  2016, many locals thought it was the end of the line for the property, at least as a commercial venue.  The prime location at the edge of Pepperrell Cove in the heart of “downtown” Kittery Point made it ripe for residential development. “Here come the condos,” was the prediction.

Since 2011, when the Frisbee family, longtime owners of the property and proprietors of the market and the adjacent Cap’n Simeon’s Restaurant, sold the place, the whole operation went through difficult times. Enter Donna Ryan and her business partners who bought the property in 2017 and have not only created a dining destination, but an homage to the Frisbees and their piece of the village that is Kittery Point.

My connection to the area dates to 1964. I remember well the Frisbee brothers and their market.  It was where you went when you needed milk, sugar, ice, beer or a loaf of bread. There was a good butcher shop along the back wall, and you could pick up a postcard or grab some candy and, sometimes, fresh produce. And while no one would ever mistake what is now Bistro 1828 for Frisbee’s Market, the entire building pays tribute to that founding family, who first opened the store in 1828.

Sky and Water View from Pepperell Cove's Frisbee's Wharf
Outdoor Dining with panoramic views at Frisbee’s Wharf (Photo: Barbara MacLeod)
The View at Pepperell Cove
The View Event Space (Photo: Cheryl Penaskovic)

A separate building behind the market housed Cap’n Simeon’s, now The View, a spectacular venue for banquets, weddings, and other events. On the floor below is Provisions, a market offering staples as well as take-out food and a great selection of beer and wine, along with a walk-up window for ice cream by the cone or cup.

Ryan and her group hired CJ Architects of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with Carla Goodknight leading the crusade. The owners wanted to preserve the history of Pepperrell Cove and the Frisbee family and every piece of salvageable material, from pieces of tin ceiling to the brass handled front door, were rescued.

Creating the new structure was an “organic process,” says Goodknight, one that grew and evolved over time as ideas for reusing and repurposing historic materials emerged. Much as a theater set designer might have a room full of props, a trailer on the construction site held every piece of saved material. Goodknight describes it as a “historic lumber yard.”

Bistro 1828 Dining Room
Bistro 1828 Dining Room (Photo: Barbara MacLeod)
Bistro 1828 Bar with Tin Ceiling Panels on Wall
Bistro 1828 Bar (Photo: Barbara MacLeod)
Bar at Bistro 1828 with Cabinets from the original store
Bistro 1828 Bar with Cabinets from the original store (Photo: Barbara MacLeod)

The team took a creative approach to using historic elements. Tin ceiling panels became the eye-catching wall behind the bar of the Bistro. The bar itself is made of old cabinets from the market and the original front door, complete with its angled brass entry bar, now marks the cloakroom. When design elements couldn’t be found in the storage trailer, Ryan and Goodknight sought out authentic period pieces, such as light fixtures and wall art.

Bar at the Ski Club at Pepperell Cove with Antique Photos
Ski Club Bar (photo: Barbara MacLeod)

On the third floor of the Bistro building is The Ski Club, a cheerful neighborhood bar that offers a full menu, and a nod to the 1950s and ‘60s when there was an active waterskiing club in the harbor. The walls are lined with vintage photographs, many of which include Frisbee family members. Each of the antique water skis that line the stairwell belonged to a Frisbee.

With her partners and Goodknight, Ryan has created gorgeous venues, and a fitting monument to the history of Kittery Point and the family that was so much a part of it.


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